List of Plants found in the City of London Cemetery

For a Map showing recording grid - click here

"Stace" indicates the page number of the plant in Stace 2nd Edition (1997)

A hash sign (#)  indicates that the species referred to are planted specimens not known to be reproducing or naturalised in the cemetery.

(p) indicates a species that has been found but is thought may be no longer present

 Table 1 - List of plants growing in the City of London Cemetery, including specimen trees and shrubs

Common Name
11 Equisetum arvense Common Horsetail N5 near N. boundary 06/05/2009
13 Ophioglossum vulgatum Adder's Tongue (p) M5 by headstone to Painter 95536, 1979; still present June 1996. Not found since.
14# Osmunda regalis Royal Fern O3, an introduced species in the old crematorium pond, 18/06/2008
18 Polypodium vulgare Polypody M3 growing from a gravestone on west side of Chapel Avenue 1994; still present June 1996; ten or more healthy clumps on brickwork of graves - some with sori along Church Avenue (M3/4), plus one in cleft at base of London Plane tree, 28/07/12 (KJA); Many plants same area on 14/04/2016
20 Pteridium aquilinum Bracken O3 in The Birches 02/11/2007; M4 N. of Chapel Avenue 14/07/2016
22 Phyllitis scolopendrium Hart's-tongue Fern M4 by headstone to Whitehead 1980's; elsewhere including O2, S. side of Central Avenue 09/06/2018
24 Asplenium adiantum-nigrum Black Spleenwort O2, some plants growing on two or three graves in Central Avenue, 09/06/2018
24 Asplenium trichomanes Maidenhair Spleenwort M4 growing in a drain on east side of Forges Rd. 13/7/80; by Church Avenue on gravestones of Mary Ann Cammack, 01/06/13 (KJA); M3/4 same location, many plants on 14/07/2016
27 Athyrium filix-femina Lady Fern (p) Growing in a drain on east side of Forges Rd. 13/7/80; O3 by Old Crematorium Pond.
33 Dryopteris filix-mas Male Fern M4 on tombstone near chapel at corner of Church & Central Avenue 05/08/1979; P3; N3 a fine plant growing between graves just north of Central Avenue 09/06/2018
35 Dryopteris dilatata Broad Buckler-fern M3 on grave E. side of Church Avenue 30/08/2004
35 Dryopteris borreri Golden-scaled Male Fern (p) Base of tree S. of old crematorium, 1995; June 1996
38# Ginkgo biloba Maidenhair Tree O3 in the Garden of Rest, 02/11/2007 - 2018; a few elsewhere.
41# Pseudotsuga menziesii Douglas Fir 31/03/2008
41# Picea breweriana Brewer's Spruce O4, two trees, 10/10/2007
43# Larix decidua European Larch M4 two or three trees on a mound, 30/08/2004
44# Cedrus deodora Deodar M4 two trees; N3 one tree; N4 one tree; O3 two trees
44# Cedrus libani Cedar of Lebanon M4 five trees; N3 two trees; N4 four trees; O3 one tree
44# Cedrus atlantica Atlas Cedar O2/3
44# Pinus ponderosa Ponderosa Pine  
45# Pinus nigra laricio Corsican Pine M2, a number of trees by boundary fence. P2 eleven trees near railway
45# Pinus sylvestris Scots Pine L4/M4 two trees by W. Boundary Road; M5 a few trees by boundary fence, lopped in March 1994.
46# Sequoia sempervirens Coast Redwood M3 by Church Ave. near main entrance
49# Cupressus macrocarpa Monterey Cypress M3/4 a four-boled specimen between Central and Church Avenues. 26/03/94
49# x Cupressocyparis leylandii Leyland Cypress Once lining some of the roads - particularly Limes Avenue - many of these have now been removed
49# Chamaecyparis lawsoniana Lawson's Cypress M4 four trees; N4 tall tree near crematorium east of St. Andrews Road
50# Thuja plicata Western Red Cedar O3 in the Garden of Rest, 25/08/2016
50# Thuja occidentalis White Cedar M4, 10/08/2016
51# Araucaria araucana Monkey-puzzle M/N3, a large tree to east of main gate.
51# Wollemia nobilis Wollemi Pine Planted on 16/03/2017
51 Taxus baccata Yew O3 in wood and elsewhere; many planted specimens - including Irish Yew - and some natural regeneration.
(72)# Magnolia x soulangiana Magnolia O3, 15/03/2008
(72)# Liriodendron tulipifera Tulip Tree 16/09/2008
75 (unknown species) Water Lily N3 in New Crematorium pond 18/06/2008
76 Ceratophyllum demersum Rigid Hornwort N3 in New Crematorium pond 14/07/2016
78 Caltha palustris Marsh Marigold N3 in New Crematorium Pond. 29/3/81 - 15/04/2018
80 Eranthis hyemalis Winter Aconite N3, on a grave, 26/01/2008; still present 2018. One or two other similar locations elsewhere.
80 Nigella damascena Love-in-a-mist N5 on a spoil heap in the Nursery area, 31/05/2018
82 Anemone appenina Blue Anemone O4 17/03/2009; O3 in grass in Garden of Rest 2017
83 Pulsatilla vulgaris Pasque Flower L3 a few flowers on a grave, April 2009 - 2017
88 Ranunculus acris Meadow Buttercup N5 O3/4 14/05/2008
88 Ranunculus repens Creeping Buttercup 03/4 18/06/2008
88 Ranunculus bulbosus Bulbous Buttercup O4, O3 on new grave area (ex shoot) 08/08/2016
90 Ranunculus sceleratus Celery-leaved Buttercup N5; O3/4 in the Birches Pond 20/04/2007
90 Ranunculus lingua Great Spearwort N3, by New Crematorium Pond, 18/06/08, planted
91 Ranunculus ficaria Lesser Celandine Various areas e.g. M4,N4, N2 in grass by St. Dionis Road, 20/03/94.
95 Aquilegia spp. Columbine 15/07/2006
101 Mahonia aquifolium Oregon Grape M5 close to boundary fence 27/04/1979
102 Papaver somniferum Opium Poppy O3 30/06/2016
103 Papaver rhoeas Common Poppy N5 02/06/2007; O3/4
107 Pseudofumaria (Corydalis) lutea Yellow Corydalis M3/4 On gravestone east side of Church Avenue near chapel; N3 by waterfall in catacomb pond. Casual
110 Fumaria officinalis (subsp. wirtgenii ?)
Common Fumitory N5 Rubbish tip 09/06/1977; O4 a plant on disturbed ground by Poplar Road 23/05/2018
111 Platanus x hispanica (P. x hybrida) London Plane L4 an avenue of trees along West Boundary Road
112 Ulmus glabra Wych Elm by North boundary fence 06/05/2009
114 Ulmus procera English Elm (p) two trees, died in 2005
115 Ulmus carpinifolia (Ulmus minor agg. MILLER ) Smooth-leaved Elm P2 a tree in south of Glade Road
117 Urtica dioica var. angustifolia Wimm. and Grab. Nettle N5, 18/06/2008; O3/4
118 Soleirolia soleirolii Mind-your-own-business O2 around a gravestone on Central Avenue, 28/04/2015
119 Pterocarya fraxinifolia Caucasian Wing Nut M4, a tree with a number of suckers nearby. Corner of Central Avenue near Chapel, 31/08/2007
120 Fagus sylvatica Beech M5, specimen in lawn; O2 'Asplenifolia'; O3 'Purpurea'
120 Castanea sativa Sweet Chestnut  
122 Quercus cerris Turkey Oak N4 nr. chapel, 05/08/2016
122 Quercus petraea Sessile Oak P2 sapling by fence 06/1991; O4 near East boundary fence, 23/05/2018
122 Quercus ilex Holm Oak L4 by West Boundary Road, regenerating, numerous specimens
123 Quercus robur English Oak N5 O5
124# Betula utilis var. jacquemontii Himalayan Birch O3, four specimens 01/03/2007; P2, a small specimen tree in the Memorial Gardens, 25/01/2016
124 Betula pendula Silver Birch O3 A tree labelled B. verrucosa; nearby another labelled B. pubescens but this tree looks more like B. pendula
140 Chenopodium album Fat Hen N5 02/07/2016; O3
144 Atriplex patula Common Orache O3
144 Atriplex hastata Spear-leaved Orache O3 dump area 29/09/1979; N5 Nursery area 17/07/2016
156 Claytonia perfoliata Spring Beauty M4 13/5/79; O4; M5, large patches around trees and gravestones near the track adjacent to north boundary fence. 19/04/2017
162 Stellaria media Common Chickweed M5 N5 03/4
163 Stellaria graminea Lesser Stitchwort M3 in grass by road-side 06/05/09
164 Cerastium tomentosum Snow-in-Summer L/M/4/5 established on grave 14/07/2016
165 Cerastium glomeratum Sticky Mouse-ear O4 pavement edge of Poplar Rd. at junction with side road, 22/5/81
165 Cerastium fontanum Common Mouse-ear N2, in grass between graves 20/03/94; N4 and various locations 14/07/2016
168 Sagina procumbens Procumbent Pearlwort N4 P2
171 Spergula arvensis Corn Spurrey O3 Dump 09/06/1979
173 Spergularia rubra Sand Spurrey O3/O4 track of tip area
176 Silene latifolia (alba) White Campion O3/4 Q2
177 Silene dioica Red Campion N5
180 Dianthus barbata Sweet William On disturbed ground SW of Old Crematorium 18/06/08
183 Persicaria maculosa
Redshank N5 O3
186 Polygonum aviculare Knotgrass N4 Nursery area on bare ground 17/07/2016
186 Fallopia japonica Japanese Knotweed N2 01/06/2008; 10/08/2016
190 Rumex acetosella Sheep's Sorrel N5 O3/4, N3/4 on embankment of St Andrews Road, 23/05/2018
191 Rumex acetosa Common Sorrel P3 in grass by fence 14/07/2016
194 Rumex crispus Curled Dock O3/4 18/06/2008
195 Rumex obtusifolius Broad-Leaved Dock N5 O3/4
203 Armeria maritima Thrift Quite common on and occasionally spreading from gravestones
206 Hypericum calycinum Rose of Sharon N3 bank behind pond (naturalised onto and by adjacent graves) 12/07/2016
207 Hypericum perforatum Perforate St. John's Wort Rough grassland, footpath near railway; 14/07/2016
210# Tilia platyphyllos Large-leafed Lime N2/3 N. of Central Avenue. In cemetery records as this species.  22/07/2016
210 Tilia x europaea Common Lime Lining some roadsides and elsewhere
212 Malva sylvestris Mallow O4 18/06/2008
215 Alcea rosea Hollyhock N4  between graves on 17/07/2016
220 Viola riviniana Common Dog Violet L4 short grass by West Boundary Rd, just past Belfry Rd. 07/05/1981; M4, on a grave at L.H. side of Church Ave, 26/03/94
220 Viola odorata Sweet Violet N2, between graves near boundary fence, 20/03/94. N4, a nice patch beneath a small tree at corner of St Andrews Road and Chapel Avenue, 26/03/94
220 Viola reichenbachiana Pale Wood Violet M4, lots in grass between Church Avenue and Central Avenue, 26/03/94
222 Viola x wittrockiana Garden Pansy N5, O3 on disturbed ground on site of old Shoot area, 11/07/2016
223 Bryonia dioica White Bryony O3 13/05/2008
226# Populus alba 'Pyramidalis' White (Bolle's) Poplar O/N/4/5, a line of 'shelter' trees by the Aldersbrook boundary fence.
226 Populus x canescens Grey Poplar O3 20/04/2007
227# Populus nigra "italica" Lombardy Poplar O4, a row by Poplar Road was removed in 2015/16; N4 N5 O5
234# Salix fragilis Crack Willow 03 06/05/2008
234# Salix x sepulcralis Weeping Willow N4 one tree at west end of Poplar Road, 08/08/2016
234# Salix matsudana 'Tortuosa' Contorted Willow  in the Memorial Gardens, 25/08/2016
237 Salix caprea agg. Goat Willow O3/4 N. edge of Birches 23/05/2018
240 Salix cinerea subsp. cinerea Grey Willow O5, O3/4 N. edge of Birches 23/05/2018
250 Sisymbrium officinale Hedge Mustard O4; N4 in the Nursery area 17/07/2016
250 Alliaria petiolata Garlic Mustard M4, M5 27/04/2015
250 Arabidopsis thaliana Thale Cress N2, on graves, 20/03/1994; N3 lawn edge by catacombs 26/3/92; N5
255 Barbarea vulgaris Common Winter Cress N5 06/05/2008; O3/4
257 Rorippa sylvestris Creeping Yellow-cress N3, by New Crematorium Pond, 18/06/2008
258 Armoricana rustica Horse Radish O4 in waste edge near east boundary, 23/05/2018
259 Cardamine flexuosa Wood Bitter-cress O4 dump
259 Cardamine hirsuta Hairy Bitter-cress M3 by graves and in grassland; N3 paving stones by new crematorium; N5
259 Cardamine pratensis Cuckoo Flower N3 bottom of S. embankment near catacombs
262 Lunaria annua Honesty 16/04/2007
263 Lobularia maritima Sweet Alison P3 on disturbed ground, 02/06/2007
267 Capsella bursa-pastoris Shepherd's Purse N5 O3/4 P2
268 Thlaspi arvense Common Field Pennycress N5
272 Lepidium ruderale Narrow-leaved Pepperwort M3 in flower bed of Poppy Pantry, 25/06/2018
272 Lepidium perfoliatum Perfoliate Pepperwort N5 a 2ft. plant on grave (to Hill) May 1991
272 Lepidium (Cardaria) draba Hoary Cress O4 waste edge of eastern boundary, 23/05/2018
273 Coronopus didymus Lesser Swine-cress N5; 03 on newly landscaped old Shoot area 02/07/2016
276 Sinapis arvensis Charlock N5
279 Hirschfeldia incana Hoary Mustard casual
281 Reseda luteola Weld O3
281 Raphanus raphanistrum Wild Radish N5
285# Rhododendron spp. Rhododendron A large number of Rhododendrons and Azaleas throughout the cemetery.
287# Arbutus unedo Strawberry Tree N3 at corner of St. Andrew's Road.
296 Primula vulgaris Primrose M4, in lawn near chapel between Church Ave and Boundary Road. 02/04/94
296 Primula x (hybrid) Primrose / Primula hybrid N4 amongst many primroses on lawn 31/03/2009
299 Lysimachia nemorum
Yellow Pimpernel M3 one plant on lawn north of Central Ave., 08/08/2016
300 Lysimachia nummularia Creeping Jenny N4 between gravestones south of chapel 04/10/1981; again in similar location (N4) 25/06/2018
301 Anagallis arvensis Scarlet Pimpernel N3 on disturbed lawn fronting catacombs 01/07/2012; O3 onS. slope of newly landscaped area 06/2016
306 Ribes uva-crispa Gooseberry M/N5 by nursery fence
307 Crassula helmsii New Zealand Pigmyweed N3 in New Crematorium Pond 14/07/2016
308 Sempervivum tectorum House-leek P2 spreading from graves 06/1991, established
312 Sedum spurium Caucasian Stonecrop 14/07/2016
312 Sedum rupestre (reflexum)
Reflexed Stonecrop N3, established
313 Sedum acre Biting Stonecrop N3 bank of St. Andrews Road
313 Sedum album White Stonecrop N3; 14/07/2016
313 Sedum anglicum English Stonecrop 14/07/2016
(313)# Liquidambar styraciflua Sweet Gum N4 & N5 an avenue of small trees along Farm Road, 14/07/2016
334 Rubus idaeus Raspberry M5 by boundary fence; P3 by boundary fence
335 Rubus fruticosus agg. Bramble O3/4 O5
335 Rubus laciniatus Cut-leaved Bramble O3/4; M4 by grave 10/08/2016
344 Potentilla anglica Trailing Cinquefoil M4 in grass north of Forge Road 10/08/2016
344 Potentilla reptans Creeping Cinquefoil N3 1992; various locations 2016
345 Fragaria vesca Wild Strawberry L4 north edge of West Boundary Rd. on 'Griffiths' grave, 7/5/81. N2, between graves near fence, 20/03/94.
346 Geum urbanum Wood Avens / Herb Bennett In various locations
347 Agrimonia eupatoria Agrimony 16/08/2017, on a gravestone and in adjacent grassland in M2/3, just south of South Gate Road
354 Aphanes arvensis Parsley-piert 17/04/2020, M3 R.H. side of Church Ave.; N4 in lawn R.H. side of Belfry Road; elsewhere, e.g. O4
361 Rosa canina Dog Rose O3/4
365 Prunus avium Wild Cherry M3/4, a specimen tree to the west of Church Avenue tagged 557, 22/08/2016
367# Prunus serrulata Japanese Cherry O3, a specimen tree cv. 'Kanzan'
367# Prunus avium Bird Cherry O3 on lawn
367# Prunus laurocerasus Cherry-laurel N3 hedge at top of bank behind pond.
369 Malus domestica Orchard Apple N4, a planted specimen tagged 2745, 22/08/2016
369# Malus sp. Apple N4 east of Boundary Rd 'John Downie' variety 13/10/80; otherwise a number of other varieties in various locations
370# Sorbus 'Embley'
Chinese Scarlet Rowan O3 in Memorial Gardens between Limes Avenue and Gardens Way, 17/08/2016
370 Sorbus aucuparia Rowan M3/4; N4 a felled large tree was regenerating healthily from the stump, 14/07/2016
371 Sorbus intermedia Swedish Whitebeam 06/05/2008
377# Amelanchier lamarkii (A. laevis) Snowy Mespil or Juneberry O3 in Memorial Gardens between Limes Avenue and Gardens Way, 17/08/2016
390 Cotoneaster horizontalis Wall Cotoneaster M4 established and flowing across grave slab 09/02/2016
391# Cotoneaster simonsii Himalayan Cotoneaster N3 planted east of St Andrews Road north of New Crematorium.
395 Pyracantha coccinea Firethorn N7 between Memorial Ave. and Poplar Rd. amongst gravestones (check species)
395# Mespilus germanica Medlar N4, a multi-stemmed shrub, corner of Belfry Road and N. Boundary Road, 10/08/2016
396# Crataegus persimilis Broad-leaved Cockspur Thorn M3, 22/09/2005
397 Crataegus monogyna Hawthorn P2, and common and regenerating elsewhere
397# Crataegus laevigata Midland Hawthorn N3 Double-flowered form south edge of square by road
401 Robinia pseudoacacia Locust Tree / Robinia O3 dump; and O3 Memorial Gardens as var. 'Frisia'; N3/4 by St Andrews Rd - a sucker, 14/07/2016
402 Galega officinalis Goat's-rue O5; O3 on new grave area (ex shoot) 08/08/2016
406 Lotus corniculatus Bird's-foot-trefoil N5 P2; commonly scattered in grassland
407 Lotus pedunculatus Greater Bird's-foot-trefoil O5 bridle path; N4, by New Crematorium Pond, 14/07/2016
408 Ornithopus perpusillus Bird's-foot N3 N4 on grassy banks leading down to new crem and catacombs
411 Vicia cracca Tufted Vetch 11/07/2016
412 Vicia hirsuta Hairy Tare L3 M5 O3
412 Vicia tetrasperma Smooth Tare 18/06/08
412 Vicia sativa ssp. nigra
Common Vetch N5 O3/4 P2
414 Lathyrus pratensis Meadow Vetchling P3 by roadside
415 Lathyrus latifolius Broad-Leaved Everlasting Pea N5, casual
417 Melilotus altissima Tall Melilot N/O3
417 Melilotus alba White Melilot O3
420 Medicago lupulina Black Medick Various locations 2008, 14/07/2016
421 Medicago sativa Lucerne O5 near to sewage works, N4 by New Crem. pond 18/06/2008
423 Medicago arabica Spotted Medick M3 in lawn, east side of Chapel Avenue, 05/08/2016; M3 left of Chapel Avenue, 28/05/2017
425 Trifolium repens White Clover N5 P2
427 Trifolium campestre
Hop Trefoil O3 on new grave area (ex shoot) 28/05/2017
427 Trifolium dubium Lesser Trefoil M3 at edge of lawn, east side of Chapel Avenue, 10/08/2016
427 Trifolium pratense Red Clover N5
432 Lupinus sp. Lupin P3
432 Laburnum anagyroides Common Laburnum M3, casual, self seeding
435 Sarothamnus scoparius Broom M5 in enclosure, N5 O3/4
436 Ulex europaeus Gorse N5 O3/4
437 Gunnera manicata Chilean Rhubarb O3 15/06/2017 (Planted in both ponds)
444 Epilobium hirsutum Great Willow-herb O4; by new crematorium pond, Sept 2008
446 Epilobium parviflorum Hoary Willowherb 03, at edge of Shoot area, 16/06/2016
446 Epilobium montanum Broad-leaved Willow-herb  
446 Epilobium tetragonum Square-stalked Willowherb In the sunken garden (near the old crematorium) 15/06/2017
448 Chamaenerion angustifolium Rosebay Willow-herb N5
451 Oenothera [biennis] Evening Primrose O3 north side of dump 01/07/1979; on dumped gravelly mound 24/09/1980; on new bare ground ex-shoot, 11/07/2016
453 Cornus sanguinea Dogwood N5 on an earth heap in the Nursey area, 23/05/2018
454# Aucuba japonica Spotted Laurel Planted in various locations
455 Viscum album Mistletoe M/N2, a plant in a tree near fence. 29/11/2000. Now gone.
456# Euonymus japonicus Evergreen Spindle-tree N7 particularly. Many specimens of Euonymus spp.
456 Ilex aquifolium inc. varieties
Holly Many varieties of holly are present; planted and as seedlings
456# Ilex x altaclerensis Highclere Holly var. 'Hodginsii'
458 Mercurialis annua Annual Mercury O3 dump area 01/07/1979; M5 on disturbed ground 19/05/2010
461 Euphorbia helioscopia Sun Spurge N5; O3 disturbed ground 08/08/2016
461 Euphorbia peplus Petty Spurge M4, common on old gravestones.
467# Koelreuteria paniculata Pride-of-India / Golden Rain tree O3, a specimen tree in the Memorial Gardens, tagged 2342,17/08/2016
468 Aesculus hippocastanum Horse-chestnut M4, An avenue of trees lining Chapel Ave.; M5 by boundary fence; planted and self-seeding
468# Aesculus x carnea Red Horse-chestnut N3 O4 some planted trees by Poplar Road.
468# Aesculus indica Indian Horse-chestnut a specimen tree. 18/06/2008
468# Acer capillipes Red Snake-bark Maple a specimen tree 10/08/2016
468# Acer ginnala Amur Maple a specimen tree 31/10/2007
(468)# Acer palmatum Smooth Japanese Maple O3, a specimen tree in the Memorial Gardens, 17/08/2016
470# Acer rubrum Red Maple O3, a specimen tree between Limes Avenue and Gardens Way, 17/08/2016
470# Acer saccharum Sugar Maple O3, a specimen tree in the Memorial Gardens, 17/08/2016
470 Acer platanoides Norway Maple 18/05/2006
470# Acer cappadocicum Cappadocian Maple O3, a specimen tree tagged 2140, 17/08/2016
470 Acer pseudoplatanus Sycamore N5; O1/P2 saplings 06/1991; O3/O4
471 Ailanthus altissima Tree of Heaven N2 a number of trees and saplings by boundary fence, casual and as saplings
473 Oxalis corniculata
Procumbent Yellow-sorrel in grass on SE slope of Birch Hill, 31/03/08, established. Elsewhere, occasionally on paving stones, etc. (inc. var. atropurpurea)
475 Oxalis articulata Pink Sorrel N3 near Sundial Road, 28/05/2017
480 Geranium dissectum Cut-leaved Cranesbill M5 O4/5
480 Geranium sanguineum Bloody Cranesbill M5 near Adder's-tongue - an escape
482 Geranium lucidum Shining Cranesbill M5, north of North Boundary Road, one patch quite near boundary fence track, 19/04/2017
482 Geranium robertianum Herb Robert Quite common in various parts of the cemetery
482 Geranium molle Dove's-Foot Cranesbill N4 grass verge at S. bend of Poplar Rd. 26/08/80; N5 in lawn grass near the Nursery area 23/05/2018
482 Geranium pyrenaicum Hedgerow Cranesbill  
485 Erodium cicutarium Common Storksbill O4 along the kerb of New Road, 12/04/2016
490 Hedera helix Ivy M5
501 Anthriscus sylvestris Cow Parsley O3/4
502 Conopodium majus Pignut P3 numerous plants on track by east boundary fence 21/5/80; M5 at edge of hedge/lawn near N. boundary fence 31/05/2018
504 Aegopodium podagraria Ground Elder N2, between graves near fence, 20/03/94. N3 03 on bank behind pond
506 Foeniculum vulgare Fennel O3
507 Conium maculatum Hemlock O4 by Poplar Road bank
515 Heracleum sphondylium Hogweed N5 27/04/2015
525 Vinca major Greater Periwinkle N3 bank behind pond (naturalised)
528 Lycopersicon esculentum Tomato Between gravestones 16/11/2006
531 Solanum nigrum Black Nightshade N5
531 Solanum dulcamara Bittersweet N4
535 Calystegia silvatica Great Bindweed O3; N4/5 in Nursery area, 17/07/2016
545 Symphytum x uplandicum Russian Comfrey O4
548 Pentaglottis sempervirens Green Alkanet M5 near boundary fence 21/03/08, established
548 Borago officinalis Borage Three patches near N. Boundary fence, 19/04/2017
551 Myosotis sylvatica Wood Forget-me-not O3/4
560 Lamium album White Dead-nettle M5, N2, on grave; N5 O3/4
562 Lamium purpureum Red Dead-Nettle N5 O3/4, O4 by Poplar Road 20/03/94, P2
562 Lamium amplexicaule Henbit M/N3 by South Boundary Road
563 Galeopsis tetrahit agg. Common Hemp-nettle P3 long grass near boundary fence; N5
567 Prunella vulgaris Self-Heal O1/2, by South boundary Rd. 01/07/1979; O4/5, two flowers in grass between gravestones and row of Poplars, 9/9/79; M3
574 Mentha aquatica Water Mint O3 by Old Crematorium pond, 22/07/2016
583 Plantago major Great Plantain N5
584 Plantago lanceolata Ribwort Plantain N5 O3/4
585 Buddleja davidii Buddleja 14/07/2016
586 Forsythia x intermedia Common Forsythia N5 two shrubs
586# Fraxinus ornus Manna Ash M5 planted specimens N. of N. Boundary Road, 14/07/2016
586 Fraxinus excelsior Ash M4 near chapel, F. excelsior 'Pendula'
587 Syringa vulgaris Lilac L4, a white-flowered form at corner of Belfry/West Boundary Roads. 07/05/81
587# Ligustrum ovalifolium Garden Privet Planted by West Boundary Road
596 Antirrhinum majus Snapdragon O2, between graves near fence 01/06/2008
598 Cymbalaria muralis Ivy-leaved Toadflax N5 on gravestone; O2 on gravestone 01/06/2008
599 Linaria vulgaris Common Toadflax O3 at edge of Gardens Way 08/08/2016
599 Linaria purpurea Purple Toadflax N5 by grave to Harrison 9/81
600 Digitalis purpurea Foxglove O3/4
602 Veronica serpyllifolia Thyme-leaved Speedwell M3 in lawn east of Church Ave, near Silver Birches 24/10/96
603 Veronica officinalis Heath Speedwell 06/06/2008
603 Veronica chamaedrys Germander Speedwell O4/5 grass beneath Lombardy Poplar, 14/4/81
604 Veronica arvensis Wall Speedwell O3 1980
605 Veronica persica Common Field-speedwell M4 N5 O4 around gravestones
605 Veronica hederifolia Ivy-leaved Speedwell M4, N2 on graves, 20/03/94.
639 Campanula persicifolia Peach-leaved Bellflower  
639 Campanula poscharskyana Trailing Bellflower O3, near Old Crematorium pond, 02/07/2016. Occasionally found spreading from graves
640 Campanula rotundifolia Harebell M3 around gravestones; O4
642 Lobelia erinus Garden Lobelia O3 a few plants on disturbed ground on site of Shoot, 11/07/2016
644 Sherardia arvensis Field Madder N3 on disturbed lawn fronting catacombs 01/07/2012
647 Galium verum Lady's Bedstraw N2 by grave near roundabout 01/07/1979; O1, edge of road just inside South Gate, 22/07/2016
647 Galium mollugo Hedge Bedstraw O1/O2 grass by roadsides, common, 6/81
649 Galium saxatile Heath Bedstraw O1, by signpost of South Boundary Rd., 01/07/1979; M3 M4
649 Galium aparine Cleavers O3/4
651 Sambucus nigra Elder O3/4 P2
661 Dipsacus fullonum fullonum Wild Teasel O3
662 Knautia arvensis Field Scabious N2, one plant in grass amongst gravestones, 4/10/81; O2 well established plants in lawn around graves, 13/09/1991
674 Arctium minus Lesser Burdock N5
675 Carduus acanthoides Welted Thistle Unknown location
676 Cirsium vulgare Spear Thistle N5 O3/4
678 Cirsium arvense Creeping Thistle By New Crematorium Pond
683 Centaurea nigra Black Knapweed  
686 Lapsana communis Nipplewort O4 by Poplar Road, 20/03/94.
686 Hypochoeris radicata Common Cat's-ear N4
687 Leontodon autumnalis
Autumn Hawkbit TQ4186 03/10/2007
688 Picris echioides Bristly Ox-tongue N4 in service area 17/07/2016; N5 O4
688 Tragopogon pratensis Goat's-beard N5, a single plant in the Nursery area, 23/05/2018
690 Sonchus oleraceus Smooth Sow-thistle N5
690 Sonchus asper Prickly Sow-thistle M5 on disturbed ground near fence 19/05/2010
698 Taraxacum officinale Dandelion O3/4
699 Crepis vesicaria ssp. taraxacifolia Beaked Hawk's-beard N5
702 Pilosella (Hieracium) officinarum Mouse-ear Hawkweed N4
705 Hieracium spp. Leafy Hawkweed N4 N5
713 Filago vulgaris Common Cudweed 03, on settling new area (old shoot), 01/11/2017
715 Gnaphalium uliginosum Marsh Cudweed M3 plentiful around tree in lawn E. of N. Boundary Road 17/07/2016
719 Solidago canadensis Canadian Golden Rod  
720 Aster sp. Michaelmas Daisy O3; by new crematorium pond
725 Conyza canadensis Canadian Fleabane O3
725 Bellis perennis Daisy scattered in grassy area
729 Artemisia vulgaris Mugwort N5 O3/4
732 Achillea millefolium Yarrow N4 N5 O3/4 P2
735 Chrysanthemum leucanthemum Ox-eye Daisy N4 O3
736 Matricaria recutita Scented Mayweed N5 O3
736 Matricaria matricarioides Pineapple Mayweed N5 O3
736 Tripleurospermum inodorum Scentless Mayweed  
740 Senecio vulgaris Groundsel N5 O3/4
740 Senecio squalidus Oxford Ragwort M4, N5
740 Senecio jacobaea Common Ragwort N4, one plant by fence; N5 a few plants in rough grassland at N.E. corner of cemetery; O5, some plants near Sewage Works wall
742 Senecio viscosus Sticky Groundsel O3
746 Tussilago farfara Coltsfoot N3 by pond; O3/4, dump, 20/03/94.
750 Stachys sylvatica Hedge Woundwort O3
751 Ballota nigra Black Horehound O3
753 Galinsoga parviflora Gallant Soldier N4 by roadside before junction into Poplar Rd.; N5 by side of Nursery Rd. and on dump ground
758 Butomus umbellatus Flowering Rush South end of New Crematorium Pond, July 1995
760 Alisma plantago-aquatica Common Water Plantain N3, in New Crematorium Pond, 11/08/06
778 Arum maculatum Cuckoo-pint O4, by Poplar Road, 20/03/94
779 Spirodela polyrhiza Greater Duckweed Old Crematorium Pond, 13/10/08
788 Juncus articulatus Jointed Rush N3, New Crematorium Pond, 18/06/08
790 Juncus effusus Soft Rush O3
790 Juncus inflexus Hard Rush N5 in Nursery area, 21/03/08; N3 by New Crem. pond, 14/07/2016
791 Luzula campestris Field Wood-rush N2, M4; common in grass in various parts of the cemy.
793 Luzula multiflora Many-headed Wood-rush 14/05/08
801 Cyperus longus Galingale N3, New Crematorium Pond, 14/09/2008, planted; O3 Old Crematorium Pond 09/06/2018
811 Carex spicata Spiked Sedge N4, between gravestones 14/07/2016
815 Carex hirta Hairy Sedge O1; P2 07/06/1981
816 Carex pendula Pendulous Sedge N3, New Crematorium Pond, 18/06/2008
859 Dactylis glomerata Cock's-Foot N5
864 Arrhenatherum elatius Tall or False Oat-grass N3 N4 O1/P2
865 Avena fatua Wild Oat M5 border scrub 14/07/2016
868 Holcus lanatus Yorkshire Fog N3 N4
871 Anthoxanthum odoratum Sweet Vernal Grass N3
888 Anisantha sterilis Barren Brome  
895 Hordeum murinum Wall Barley N3 N4 P2
898 Triticum aestivum Bread Wheat M3 just inside cemetery wall between that and office block 11/07/2016
910 Panicum mileaceum Common Millet O3
921 Typha latifolia Great Reedmace N3, New Crematorium Pond, 7 Sept 2009
931 Ornithogalum angustifolium Star-of-Bethlehem  
932 Scilla siberica Siberian (Spring) Squill N2 by St Dionis Road by vault 106333, 20/04/94
934 Chionodoxa forbesii (luciliae) Glory-of-the-snow N4/M4; naturalised in various locations
934 Hyacinthoides non-scripta x hispanica Hybrid Bluebell L3,M3,M4,M5,O3
934 Hyacinthoides orientalis Hyacinth O3 woodland at edge of chute
935 Muscari spp. (armeniacum) Garden Grape Hyacinth Established in various locations
938 Allium roseum Rosy Garlic O2 by a grave near the boundary, 01/06/08
938 Allium triquetrum Three-cornered Leek Scattered, with a large patch at the west edge of Sundial Road, N3
941 Tristagma (Ipheion) uniflorum Spring Starflower M/N4 by Anchor Road, 10/02/2008
943 Galanthus nivalis Snowdrop M4 scattered, 7/3/10; P2 beneath tree on South Perimeter Road, 9/3/80
945 Narcissus spp. Hybrid Daffodils O4, outcast by by N. boundary fence, 21/03/2008
955 Crocus nudiflorus Autumn Crocus 03/10/2007
956 Crocus tommasinianus Early Crocus O3, particularly N. side of Limes Avenue, but common in lawns elsewhere.
958 Crocus spp. Garden Crocii Many naturalised plants in various locations
958 Crocus purpureus (vernus) Spring Crocus 03/03/1978
962 Tamus communis Black Bryony O3 in a privet hedge opposite the shoot, 15/09/08; O2/3 lots growing near hedges 09/06/2018
975 Dactylorchis maculata Spotted Orchid O3 S. side of pond by old crematorium. 10/06/1998 until 2007; still present - with eight flowering spikes - in 2016; in flower 15/06/2017


Table 2 - Species found during botanical visits to the Cemetery led by Ken Adams. The first visit on 01/06/2013 covered mainly the eastern side of the cemetery - which lies in O.S. Grid Square TQ4286, and the second - on 28/07/2013 - the west side of the cemetery - in TQ4186. Thanks to Ken for passing on the results of these expeditions so that they can be published here. Comments ammended by Ken are included.

Those marked with an asterisk are ones that I do not have in my records, either because I have not recognised them or had overlooked them.

Common Name
24 Asplenium adiantum-nigrum Black Spleenwort TQ4286 01/06/13, native;
76 Ceratophyllum demersum Rigid Hornwort TQ4186 old crematorium pond 28/07/02, native
162* Stellaria pallida Lesser Chickweed TQ4186 01/06/13, native
164 Cerastium tomentosum Snow-in-summer TQ4286 established on a grave 01/06/2013
169* Sagina apetala subsp. apetala Annual Pearlwort TQ4186 28/07/12, native
186 Polygonum aviculare Knotgrass TQ4186 28/07/12, native
187* Fallopia convolvulus Black-bindweed  TQ4186 28/07/12, native
208* Hypericum humifusum Trailing St John's-wort  TQ4186 28/07/12 small patch in mown grassland just south of crematorium, native
209* Hypericum hirsutum Hairy St John's-wort  TQ4186 28/07/12, native
267* Neslia paniculata Ball Mustard TQ4186 01/06/13 one huge plant in pantry garden, casual
307 Crassula helmsii New Zealand Pigmyweed TQ4186 28/07/12 small patch crematorium pond, established
312 Sedum spurium Caucasian-stonecrop TQ4186 28/07/12 established, escaping from graves; TQ4286 01/06/13
317* Saxifraga x arendsii Mossy Saxifrage TQ4286 01/06/13, native
346 Geum urbanum Wood Avens TQ4186 28/07/12; TQ4286 01/06/13, native
354 Aphanes arvensis Parsley-piert TQ4186 01/06/13; TQ4286 01/06/13, native
390 Cotoneaster horizontalis Wall Cotoneaster TQ4286 01/06/13, established
412 Vicia sativa subsp. nigra Narrow-leaved Vetch TQ4186 01/06/13; TQ4286 01/06/13, native
412* Vicia sativa subsp. segetalis Common Vetch TQ4186 01/06/13; TQ4286 01/06/13, native
412* Vicia sepium Bush Vetch TQ4186 01/06/13; TQ4286 01/06/13, native
423 Medicago arabica Spotted Medick TQ4186 01/06/13; TQ4286 01/06/13, native
427 Trifolium campestre Hop Trefoil TQ4186 28/07/12, native
427 Trifolium dubium Lesser Trefoil TQ4186 28/07/12; TQ4286 01/06/13, native
427* Trifolium micranthum Slender Trefoil TQ4186 28/07/12 abundant in mown turf east side of main track from entrance
446 Epilobium parviflorum Hoary Willowherb TQ4186 28/07/12, native
446 Epilobium tetragonum Square-stalked Willowherb TQ4186 28/07/12, native
451 Oenothera biennis Common Evening-primrose TQ4186 28/07/12
453 Cornus sanguinea Dogwood TQ4186 28/07/12; TQ4286 01/06/13, native
473 Oxalis corniculata var. atropurpurea “Purple Creeping Wood Sorrell” TQ4186 28/07/12; TQ4286 01/06/13 established
473 Oxalis corniculata var. corniculata Procumbent Yellow-sorrel TQ4186 01/06/13; TQ4286 01/06/13 established
479* Geranium rotundifolium Round-leaved Crane's-bill TQ4286 01/06/13, native
482* Geranium pusillum Small-flowered Crane's-bill TQ4186 01/06/13, native
506* Aethusa cynapium Fool's Parsley TQ4186 28/07/12, native
517* Torilis nodosa Knotted Hedge-parsley TQ4186 01/06/13 single plant edge of roadway, native
551* Myosotis arvensis Field Forget-me-not TQ4186 01/06/13, native
567* Melissa officinalis Balm TQ4186 28/07/12, established
583* Plantago coronopus Buck's-horn Plantain TQ4186 28/07/12, native
593* Scrophularia nodosa Common Figwort TQ4186 01/06/13, native
639* Campanula trachelium Nettle-leaved Bellflower TQ4186 01/06/13 one patch between graves, not yet in flower, native
644 Sherardia arvensis Field Madder TQ4186 28/07/12, native
649 Galium saxatile Heath Bedstraw TQ4186 28/07/12, native
656* Lonicera periclymenum Honeysuckle TQ4186 01/06/13; TQ4286 native
683 Centaurea nigra var. nemoralis Black Knapweed TQ4186 28/07/12, native
688* Picris hieracioides Hawkweed Oxtongue TQ4186 28/07/12, native
688 Tragopogon pratensis subsp. minor Goat's-beard TQ4186 28/07/12; TQ4286 native
690* Lactuca serriola f. integrifolia Prickly Lettuce TQ4186 28/07/12, native
690* Lactuca serriola f. serriola Prickly Lettuce TQ4186 28/07/12, native
690* Lactuca virosa Great Lettuce TQ4286 01/06/13, native
702 Pilosella officinarum subsp. euronota Mouse-ear Hawkweed TQ4186 28/07/12, native
702 Pilosella officinarum subsp. micradenia Mouse-ear Hawkweed TQ4186 01/06/13 abundant on and between graves; TQ4286 native
702* Pilosella officinarum subsp. tricholepia Mouse-ear Hawkweed TQ4186 01/06/13 plus seedlings; TQ4286 native
703* Hieracium lepidulum Irregular-toothed Hawkweed TQ4186 28/07/12, native
703* Hieracium scotostictum Dappled Hawkweed TQ4286 01/06/13
705* Hieracium sabaudum Autumn Hawkweed TQ4186 28/07/12 several on grass between tombs
725* Conyza sumatrensis Guernsey Fleabane TQ4186 28/07/12, native; TQ4286 01/06/13, one plant seen, casual
740* Senecio erucifolius Hoary Ragwort TQ4286 01/06/13, native
811* Carex divulsa subsp. divulsa Grey Sedge TQ4186 28/07/12, several clumps grassy area opposite crematorium; TQ4286 01/06/13, East Anglian condensed head form, native
811 Carex spicata Spiked Sedge TQ4286 01/06/13, native
814* Carex ovalis (leporina) Oval Sedge TQ4186 01/06/13 scattered clumps all over the shorter turf; TQ4286 01/06/13, native
816* Carex flacca Glaucous Sedge TQ4186 28/07/12, native
846* Festuca rubra subsp. rubra Red Fescue TQ4186 28/07/12; TQ4286 01/06/13, native
849* Festuca filiformis Fine-leaved Sheep's-fescue TQ4186 01/06/13; TQ4286 01/06/13, native
852* Lolium perenne  Perennial Rye-grass  TQ4186 28/07/12, native
853* Vulpia bromoides Squirreltail Fescue TQ4286 01/06/13, native
858* Poa annua Annual Meadow-grass TQ4186 28/07/12; TQ4286 01/06/13
858* Poa humilis Spreading Meadow-grass  TQ4186 28/07/12
858* Poa pratensis Smooth Meadow-grass TQ4186 28/07/12; TQ4286 01/06/13, native
858* Poa trivialis Rough Meadow-grass TQ4286 01/06/13, native
868* Deschampsia flexuosa Wavy Hair-grass TQ4186 01/06/13, native
869* Aira praecox Early Hair-grass TQ4186 01/06/13 small patch in one area, native
874* Agrostis capillaris Common Bent TQ4186 28/07/12, native
874* Agrostis stolonifera Creeping Bent  TQ4186 28/07/12; TQ4286 01/06/13, native
880* Alopecurus pratensis Meadow Foxtail  TQ4186 28/07/12; TQ4286 01/06/13, native
885* Bromus hordeaceus Soft-brome TQ4186 01/06/13; TQ4286 01/06/13, native
891* Brachypodium sylvaticum False-brome TQ4286 01/06/13, native
892* Elytrigia repens Common Couch TQ4186 28/07/12, native
934 Hyacinthoides x massartiana Hybrid Bluebell (H. non-scripta x hispanica) TQ4186 01/06/13; TQ4286 01/06/13, native
935 Muscari armeniacum Garden Grape-hyacinth TQ4186 01/06/13; TQ4286 01/06/13 established
954* Iris foetidissima Stinking Iris TQ4186 28/07/12, native



The Flora of the City of London Cemetery 

(For a list of the plants that have been found in the cemetery - click here)

(For a map showing recording grid - click here)


Since 1975 I have been gathering records of the flora of the cemetery during occasional visits there. Although the survey was not done on a planned basis, the report is intended to complement those surveys that were published some years ago in the London Naturalist as "The Flora of Southern Epping Forest". As with those reports, apart from providing a record of the flora of the City of London Cemetery, it is also intended to present a readable synopsis of the flora to both experts and beginners alike. For this reason the English and scientific names are given in the text and in the species list.

As may be expected in such an environment, many of the plants have been deliberately introduced, both by the Cemetery Authorities as part of the park and garden-like atmosphere, and by members of the public to commemorate their loved-ones. This has led to more-than-usual difficulties in deciding what to include here, and I have been quite flexible with this. I have included ornamental trees, because the cemetery is an excellent place to get to see these, but not so many shrubs - although some may be included. To give a flavour of the shrubs that were planted in the early days of the cemetery, as well as ubiquitous laurel and rhododendron the list includes lilac, holly, Laurustinus, Aucuba, Forsythia, Olearia, Skimmia, larch, privet, Azalea, Laburnum, Crataegomespilus and hawthorn, as well as rarer trees and shrubs such as Ailanthus, Arbutus, Magnolia, and Pterocarya Caucasica (fraxinifolia). A publication of 1856 “Specification of Trees and Shrubs to be supplied to the City of London Cemetery now being formed at Little Ilford” includes tenders for some astounding numbers of plants, for example for 6000 cherry laurel Prunus laurocerasus!

The City of London Cemetery

Some of these Introduced trees and shrub species may have become naturalised - the Ailanthus (tree of heaven) is an example. On the other hand, I know of only one specimen of Arbutus (strawberry tree). This particular tree blew down in 2007, but the stump was tidied and allowed to regrow. In 2013 it presents a small but attractive aspect, with the species usual trick of providing both flowers and its distinctive fruit at the same time. Usually with the flowers I have only included those that have spread away from their plantings on the graves into adjacent lawns, and appear to be established. But there are a few which are only found on gravestones but seem to be self-sustaining and because of their interest value I have included; Pasqueflower and thrift are examples of these. I have tried to indicate somewhere in my listings if a plant is a deliberate introduction and what its status is.

In the following text, I have divided the cemetery ground into categories which are easily recognisable and which I feel give rise to a different type of flora.


The Plants of the City of London Cemetery

The City of London Cemetery in the Little Ilford area of Newham in east London comprises 200 acres of land immediately adjacent to Wanstead Flats, very near to Wanstead Park and close to the corridor of the River Roding. With such a large amount of land in such a location it is not surprising that there is a wealth of plants to be found there, both naturally occuring and deliberately introduced. There are a variety of habitats, ranging from almost "wild" to very formal, but the overall impression is of a garden: A City of London Corporation promotional booklet of 1929 was called The Cemetery in a Garden. Here I have attempted to briefly describe some of the major distinctive habitats.

The lawns

The lawns constitute the greater part of the cemetery area, and even though the frequent cutting spoils the potential for wild-plants, still a good number may be found. In the spring one of the first plants to flower in quantity is early crocus Crocus tommasinianus. A variety of garden crocii make their appearance usually a little later than these. Field wood-rush Luzula campestris is plentiful over wide areas, and this in places is together with early violet Viola reichenbachiana, common violet V. riviniana and sweet violet V. odorata. The violets are often also found on gravestones. Spring beauty Montia perfoliata is found in places, sometimes on graves but often around the bases of trees nearer to the roads. Similarly, bluebells Hyacinthoides spp. occur mainly by roadsides and grave-sides, probably indicating deliberate introductions. A group of primroses Primula occurs in the lawn near to the church, but these also include some pink-flowered forms indicating hybridisation with garden forms. This indicates the difficulty of deciding on naturally occurring or deliberately introduced plants here. Early summer is notable for the amount of ox-eye daisy Chrysanthemum leucanthemum, which is abundant almost everywhere in the grass between gravestones. Also found are a variety of speedwells including Germander speedwell Veronica chamaedrys and common field-speedwell V. persica. In some locations, in July, field madder Sherardia arvensis may be found - a species which is not known from elsewhere in the study area.

In 2005, when this report on the flora of the cemetery was written, I suggested that "Perhaps a regime of maintenance might be developed in the future that takes botanical needs more into account. In the older and more remote parts of the cemetery there must be areas where grass could be cut perhaps two times a year - in June after the spring flowering and again in autumn. This would allow flowers to seed and to recover. Though certainly some people visiting might wonder at the "untidiness" of such areas, as many would enjoy the spectacle of wildflowers flourishing." By 2015, to some extent this was being carried out and it was more common to see - at least for a time - areas of the site where the grass had not been mown or strimmed. 


The roadways

Though much of the land is lawn, with grave and tombstones therein, there are about seven miles of roadway within the grounds. Many of these are lined by mature trees, an example being those avenues of horse-chestnuts Aesculus hippocastanum that radiate from the main gate. Elsewhere, avenues are lined with such species as London plane Platanus x hispanica, and common lime Tilia x europaea. An interesting aspect of some road-sides is the variety of holly specimens that have been planted, including variegated-leaf types and the distinctive Ilex aquifolium 'Ferox' or hedgehog holly.


The woodland

Only relatively small areas of the cemetery could be called "wild". The most important of these are a small area of woodland near to the eastern boundary fence known as The Birches, and adjacent to this an area known as the Shoot which until 2015 was used for the recycling of green waste. This is area is described below. The woodland area had been encroached upon by this tipping and a stream which used to run in a deep gully through the wood had been culverted and then covered. Presumably the stream is of run-off water from the slightly higher ground of Wanstead Flats to the south-west (see Alexandra Lake). The outflow can still be seen just within the cemetery fence - a constantly flowing stream which now constitutes the first visible source of the Alders Brook. Before the culverting took place - I have been told - kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) used the stream. Near to the eastern boundary fence, within the wood, a pond was created as a wildlife refuge and water from the strem flows out through a culvert directly into this. The most significant tree of the woodland is grey poplar Populus canescens, with numerous mature trees as well as young ones. There are some large horse chestnuts Aesculus hippocastanum seeding readily, as does sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus. Silver birch Betula pendula, of which some mature specimens are to be found along the edge of the wood by the boundary fence, is another species which readily seeds itself. There is some scattered holly Ilex aquifolium, elder Sambucus nigra, and many yews Taxus baccata. The ground cover is in much of the area dominated by ivy Hedera helix. Nettle Urtica dioica exists on the edges of the wood, as does daffodil Narcissus spp. and Spanish bluebell Endymion hispanicus, both likely to have been introduced by way of throw-outs. Nearer to the tip area is a large expanse of ground elder Aegopodium podagraria. There are some pedunculate oaks Quercus robur, goat willow Salix caprea, and wild cherry Prunus avium along the northern edge of the wood, and Turkey oak Quercus cerris at the southern edge. The wood is a quiet area of the cemetery, and rarely visited. Much use is made of it by a variety of birds, even woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) have been seen. In 2006 this area was designated as a nature reserve, known as The Birches.


The Birches Nature Reserve

The cemetery's Conservation Management Plan (page 10), highlights the area known as The Birches as significant in terms of its history, ecology and archaeology.

The area has been left virtually untouched for around a century, and is a valuable site for encouraging wild flora and fauna to thrive. It was intended that Nature Trail factsheets would be devised with the assistance of the Wren Conservation & Wildlife Group. Factsheets would be free of charge upon request. It was hoped that this could provide a first-class wildlife habitat which benefits the local ecology and ensures the development of education and recreation for visitors now and long into the future.

Volunteers from the 21 Royal Engineers ACF started work on clearing a path on Saturday 9th October 2004. The Nature Reserve opened for visits by the public in 2006. At the Cemetery Open Day on Sunday 13th August, a walk was led around the Nature Reserve by myself (Paul Ferris). About 15 people attended, and although weather conditions weren't conducive to much wildlife activity, the visit seemed favourably received. Future tours may be planned.

For more details about the Birches Nature Reserve click here

For photographs of some of the wildlife to be found in the cemetery click here


Specimen Trees

A vast number of trees have been introduced to the cemetery to enhance its park-like atmosphere. Few are of great age; most probably planted since the cemetery was founded. Of those that pre-date this a grand English oak that is sited at the end of Belfry Road, almost at the northernmost point of the cemetery, may well be the oldest and perhaps derives from the time of Aldersbrook Manor. This tree was struck twice by lightning strikes in the early hours of 23rd July 2013, but seems to have survived well. All of the trees (except those in the Birches) have been identified and tagged on behalf of the cemetery, and the list comprises over 3000 specimens. Of these 40 or so species have been included in a booklet entitled "The Cemetery Tree Trail", which may be still available from the cemetery office, although is now out of print. To pick a few out of those included: coast redwood Sequoia sempervirens, of which there are a few specimens scattered about the cemetery, a monkey puzzle Araucaria araucana, maidenhair tree Ginkgo biloba, and a strawberry tree Arbutus unedo. Unfortunately the latter blew down in a strong wind, but the stump has been allowed to re-grow (photo). In March 2017 a specimen of Wollemi Pine Wollemia nobilis (see here) was planted, the first known to have been so in this area.


The Shoot

The area known to the cemetery staff as the shoot (or chute) was a disturbed piece of land to the north and west of the wood, bordered by Poplar Road on its NW boundary. It was disguised and sheltered from the rest of the cemetery by the wood itself, by a tree-lined embankment on its SE edge, and by a similar emabnkment behind a line of trees, including Lombardy poplar Populus nigra 'Italica', along Poplar Road. A continuous regime of tipping various types of rubbish meant that the enclosed area was gradually being in-filled, and the wood encroached upon. The tip itself did contain numerous plant relics, some of which persisted for a short time - as with the vegetable marrow Cucurbita maxima that was found in 1979. Some of these found their way to the waste ground around the tip and to the edges of the vehicle tracks in the area. Thus many specimens of garden daffodils Narcissus spp. grew nearby and even occasionally a garden tulip. Many small animals used the tip area, foxes (Vulpes vulpes) were common and hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) have been seen, as well as rats. In the summer the noise of house crickets (Acheta domesticus) used to be persistent on warm and even less than warm days, but became less and then not at all over the years. On the northern-western edge of the tip area the embankment which to separated it from the rest of the cemetery may have been the remnants of a previous tip. A dense and impenetrable tangle of bramble Rubus fruticosus agg. occupied the slope nearest the tip, and at the top some fine plants of gorse Ulex europaeus occured, spread along a track which gives an access from the cemetery into part of the tip area. The track itself provided a habitat for a variety of plants, including shepherd's purse Capsella bursa-pastoris, common winter cress Barbarea vulgaris, corn spurrey Spergula arvensis, evening primrose Oenothera spp., and some fine displays of ox-eye daisy Chrysanthemum maximum. In summer, although there is a green-waste tip a few metres away, this part of the tip area was warm and peaceful and a lovely place for plants and insects. However, during the latter partof the 2000's, much of this was cut into and levelled, and gradually the gorse disappeared. On the lower ground, much of it rutted by vehicle tracks either recently or in the past, species such as common horsetail Equisetum arvense, sand-spurrey Spergularia rubra, coltsfoot Tussilago farfara, scentless mayweed Tripleurospermum maritimum, and bristly ox-tongue Picris echioides could be found.

In early 2014, the line of poplar trees that gave their name to Poplar Road, on the northern side of the Shoot, were felled. This was to extend the area available for use as burial space, as this is becoming scarce even though ther cemetery is so large. This work gave me opportunity to access some of the "wilderness" area, near to the Birches Nature Reserve but until then virtually inaccessible. It was a landscape of wooded gullies and fallen trees which could have been in the heart of some ancient forest, rather than within the formal surroundings of the City of London Cemetery. Perhaps most notable was a bank of snowdrops Galanthus nivalis, which may have been unseen by humans for decades!

During 2015 this area was extensively landscaped so as to provide more burial space - a resource which even this large cemetery is now running short of. The result in mid-2016 is an area which is now fully visible from much of the surrounding public parts of the cemetery, consisting of a large low mound, dipping gradually towards the north, with steeper banks along Poplar Road and more so to the south nearer Limes Avenue. In mid 2016, the area was still settling, with casual plants including garden pansy Viola x wittrockiana and garden lobelia Lobelia erinus, growing over the sand/gravel soil. Most dramatic in early July was the amount of scented mayweed Matricaria recutita, which covered the area. Presumably this will be grass-seeded eventually. A cursory look at the area at the beginning of November 2017 provided the first specimens of common cudweed Filago vulgaris noted in the Wanstead  Wildlife area. Five plants were found, scattered over the reclaimed land.


The Nursery and disturbed areas

From time to time pieces of ground within the cemetery is disturbed for one reason or another. This is particularly true of areas around the perimeters. Also, between near to the north boundary fence is an area called the Nursery. This is a fenced portion of land not open to the public which is used for a variety of purposes. This includes the storage and movement of soil used within the cemetery, and as such is in a constant state of change. There are earth tips as well as rutted and muddy areas, and also rank grass. A clump of hard rush Juncus inflexus has been found here. Other species of opportunist plants found in these disturbed areas from time to time include corn spurrey, scentless mayweed Tripleurospermum inodorum, scented mayweed Matricaria recutita, spear thistle Cirsium vulgare, celery-leaved crowfoot Ranunculus sceleratus and toad rush Juncus bufonius. Grasses include rough meadow grass Poa trivialis, soft brome Bromus mollis, tall oat grass Arrhenatherum elatius and Yorkshire fog Holcus lanatus. Trees found that have established themselves include yew, sweet chestnut, Turkey oak and Swedish whitebeam Sorbus intermedia. The boundaries of the cemetery, particularly that to the east, provide a habitat for hundreds of garden daffodils Narcissus spp.. Some of these may find their way through the boundary railings and then constitute plants of other localities - as for example the Alders Brook or the Aldersbrook Exchange Lands (the old sewage works site).


The gravestones

A wide variety of plants may be found either growing on or associated with the gravestones. Many are plants that have been deliberately introduced, and some of these have either evidently persisted in this particular location for a considerable time or else have spread from the graves themselves into the surrounding grassland. An example of this is thrift Armeria maritima, usually found planted on the graves, but occasionally in the ground immediately adjacent. Houseleek Sempervivum spp. can also sometimes be found adjacent to the graves on which they were originally planted, as well as other related species including biting stonecrop Sedum acre, English stonecrop Sedum anglicum, reflexed stonecrop Sedum rupestre and Caucasian stonecrop Sedum spurium. As would be expected, an early plant to flower in the year is winter aconite Eranthis hyemalis, but it is not common and more usually on gravestones. However a small amount does grow adjacent to these. Associated with gravestones too is wild strawberry Fragaria vesca, often to be found growing beside a slab

Plants that appear spontaneously on gravestones include spring beauty, speedwells Veronica spp., petty spurge Euphorbia peplus, sun spurge, stitchworts and chickweeds and a variety of lichens and mosses. On the sides of some - usually damper and older - gravestones, the liverworts Lunularia cruciata and Marchantia polymorpha are present. Harebell is found in an unusual situation growing on the roof of a large vault grave in Anchor Road, and a few fronds of polypody Polypodium vulgare grow from slabs in Church Avenue. Other ferns growing usually from the sides of gravestones are buckler Dryopteris dilatata, hart's-tongue Ophioglossum vulgatum, bracken Pteridium aquilinum, maidenhair spleenwort Asplenium trichomanes and male fern Dryopteris filix-mas. A single adder's tongue Ophioglossum vulgatum was known behind a grave from 1975 to 1996, but has not been found recently.

It may be noted that gravestones immediately adjacent to each other will frequently have a very different collection of plant species.


The ponds

There are three ponds: by the New Crematorium, by the Old Crematorium and in the Birches Wood. The first two are maintained in a formal manner, and most of the plants that are associated with them have probably been deliberately introduced. The pond by the new crematorium has great spearwort Ranunculus lingua, common water plantain Alisma plantago-aquatica, flowering rush Butomus umbellatus, hard rush Juncus inflexus, soft rush Juncus effusus and jointed rush Juncus articulatus. Also in the pond is horn-wort Ceratophyllum demersum, duckweed Lemna minor, a small amount of greater duckweed Spirodela polyrhiza, and in 1994 just a few fronds of water fern Azolla filiculoides.

The old crematorium pond has hard rush, horn-wort and duckweeds, as well as some resident red-eared terrapins (Chrysemys scripta) which are present and sometimes abundant in many of the local ponds and lakes. During the late summer of 2007 the pond was renovated and some additional plants were introduced; some of these - it may be supposed - were moved from the New Crematorium pond. Noted after the renewal, on the rockery banks was royal fern Osmunda regalis. During this work a specimen of spotted orchid Dactylorchis maculata that had been known here for some years was disturbed, but remarkably, two plants were noted in the same spot in July 2009 and were still present in 2013.

The third pond is much more natural in appearance, although was created deliberately within the Birch Wood in an attempt to enhance the wildlife habitat within the cemetery. The pond is sourced from a concrete culvert which carries drainage of surface water from parts of the cemetery and, potentially, from Wanstead Flats via the overflow outlet from Alexandra Lake. The pond's outlet is via another culvert which carries water below the cemetery's boundary fence towards the Roding. The outlet of this culvert constitutes the first visible flow of the Alders Brook. The pond is considerably surrounded by vegetation and overshadowed by trees, and is almost unseen until very close to; it is also difficult to access. With the creation of The Birches Nature Reserve in 2006, it is now possible to view the pond to some degree from within the Birches. In 2007, the pond was more or less filled with celery-leaved buttercup Ranunculus sceleratus. The concrete culvert itself acts as a habitat for a variety of mosses (as yet unidentified), but there are some nice specimens of hart's-tongue fern.



In attempting to write a flora of the cemetery, decisions had to be made as to which species were to be included and which to be left out. In such formal and managed surroundings, many species are obviously deliberately introduced. It was not thought worthwhile including planted shrubs and it would be virtually impossible to cater for bedding plants! However plants that evidently have been deliberately introduced, but have the appearance of having become to some extent naturalised, are included. Many of these occur only either on or close to gravestones, but some are much more widespread. Similarly, trees and shrubs which have been planted and which do not appear to be reproducing either by seeds or by suckers, are indicated by a # (hash) sign. In the end, it has been my own decision whether to include a species or not. Notwithstanding this dilemma, the Cemetery is a wonderful place to visit, to do some botanising or simply to enjoy it as a park or garden. Even with those species to be found that have been deliberately introduced and may not even persist very long, the cemetery provides an ideal and safe environment to see some plants that we might otherwise have to go a long way to experience.

Doubtless there are other species of plants in the City of London Cemetery to be found, identified and included, and little work has been done on the status of the species recorded in this paper. In the list that is available, not enough information is available to describe the frequency of individual species. In many instances, only the grid-square in which a species has been found is given, whereas in others some indication to the actual location is shown. That a species is not shown from other squares does not of course mean that it is not present.

The sequence of plants in Table 1 follows the order and nomenclature of Stace (1997). The letters and numbers after some of the entries in these tables refer to the squares shown in the map, each square being 0.25 x 0.25 km.



Acknowledgements for the earlier version of this paper (2000) were due primarily to Mr. J.P. Luby, past Superintendent and Registrar of the City of London Cemetery, as well as the cemetery staff. Particular thanks are expressed to the late Richard Baker of Manor Park for helping to gather records.

For the revised version (2007), acknowledgements are due to Mr. Ian Hussein, Director of the Cemetery, to Xa Naylor, past Service Development Officer, to Gary Burks, Superintendent & Registrar, and other members of the cemetery staff who have been so helpful in gaining access and providing information.



CLAPHAM, A.R., TUTIN, T.G. and WARBURG, E.F. 1962. Flora of the British Isles. Ed. 2 Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

CLIVE STACE. 1997. New Flora of the British Isles. 2nd Edition. Cambridge University Press

MITCHELL, A., and WILKINSON, J. 1982. The Trees of Britain and Northern Europe. Ed. 2 Collins, London.

GIBSON, G.S. 1868. The Flora of Essex.



LAMBERT, D. 2006. The Cemetery in a Garden: 150 Years of the City of London Cemetery. City of London Corporation


The City of London Cemetery and Crematorium - update on some of the issues referred to in the above article.


The Corporation of London's Public Relations Office had produced a publication - The City of London Cemetery and Crematorium Tree Trails. This was available at the Main Gate and features almost 70 varieties of tree to be seen on two tree walks. The publication in 2013 is thought to be out of print.

A survey of the trees in the cemetery was undertaken by the cemetery authorities, the species recorded and the specimen trees tagged with a number. 3622 trees were identified and mapped, notes being made of their state of health and any remedial work that needed to be undertaken, and about 92 species are known to be present.

A policy of allowing some areas to remain in a state to allow for seasonal wildlife to be enhanced has been instigated - these are called Seasonal Wildlife Zones.

(Originally written in 2005 - updated on an occasional basis thereafter)

Paul Ferris


The Birches Nature Reserve

The History and location of the Site

The Birches Nature Reserve within the City of London Cemetery was opened in 2006, having been created in a wooded area at the eastern edge of the cemetery.

The wood is likely to have remained almost untouched since the Corporation of London bought the land in 1854, at which time it was Aldersbrook Farm. (For more information on Aldersbrook Farm and Aldersbrook Manor, click here)

Adjacent to an area which has been for long used as tip for the waste material generated within the grounds, the wood acted as something of a screen for the tip. In addition, a stream runs through the wood which prohibits the use of the area for burials. The stream is actually the Alders Brook, though this has been to a great extent culverted beneath the tip and only emerges into a pond which was created perhaps in the 1970's as a wildlife amenity. (see "The Alders Brook")

In fact, the amenity value of the pond has been very limited both to wildlife and to human visitors due to it being so overshadowed by trees and its isolated location within the wood. Only with the creation of the nature reserve has it been possible for visitors to view it with any ease at all.

Whereas the stream that constitutes the Alders Brook flows out of the cemetery eastwards through a culvert towards the River Roding, some of the water - when there is much flow at all - actually backs up from the pond into a wide gully that stretches slightly south of west through the wood. As the whole of this area is very overgrown with bramble, ivy and other plants, it is difficult to appreciate that this gully is actually the remains of the Great Canal, an important landscaped asset of the Manor of Aldersbrook!

Since the nature reserve has only been established since about 2005, and only "officially" open since 2006, a comprehensive survey of the site has not yet taken place. However, an introduction to some of the plants that may be found is given below.

The Birches

Although called the Birches, perhaps the most significant tree of the woodland is grey poplar Populus canescens, with numerous mature trees and young ones. Silver birch Betula pendula is present within the wood and particularly along the edges and just outside of the wood proper. Some mature specimens are to be found by the boundary fence. It readily seeds itself.

There are some large horse chestnuts Aesculus hippocastanum seeding readily, as does sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus. There is some scattered holly Ilex aquifolium, elder Sambucus nigra, and numerous yews Taxus baccata, some of which were planted in the 1980s. However, as is true of nearby areas of Epping Forest, this species is regenerating readily. The ground cover is somewhat sparse, except for ivy Hedera helix, which in some parts is the dominant ground cover. As well as a more normal form of leaf, an attractive cut-leaved form is also present (photo). Nettle Urtica dioica exists on the edges of the wood, as does daffodil Narcissus spp. and Spanish bluebell Endymion hispanicus, both likely to have been introduced by way of throw-outs. Nearer to the tip area is a large expanse of ground elder Aegopodium podagraria. There are some pedunculate oaks Quercus robur, some tall Turkey oaks Quercus cerris, great sallow Salix caprea, and wild cherry Prunus avium along the northern edge of the wood. The wood is a quiet area of the cemetery, and rarely visited. Much use is made of it by a variety of birds, even woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) and snipe (Gallinago gallinago) have been seen.



The Birches Nature Reserve


A tour of the Reserve

The Birches Nature Reserve may be approached from the old crematorium building by walking north-eastwards and along Limes Avenue. As the road bears to the right, look out for the wooden sign on the lawn to the left : "The Birches"; this is by some mature specimens of silver birch on the lawn.

At the edge of the lawn, the boundary of the woodland is formed by bramble and bracken, and it is suggested that the left-hand entrance to the reserve is taken, formed by a log-pile which is a good place to look for fungi. The track leads into the woodland, with a mix of trees to either side including towering grey poplars - which are actually more plentiful here than birches - and Turkey oak. There is a scattering of holly, and it is worth looking at the variety of leaf-shapes and colours of the specimens here, and a mixed understory of bramble and ivy. The path is a soily gravel, and many plants may establish themselves in it. Typical of these are species such as herb robert, groundsel and Canadian fleabane. Part-way along the path some log benches have been formed, which again provide a home for fungi such as Stereum and ear-fungus Auricularia auricula-judaea. Honey fungus Armillaria mellea is frequent on the logs which have been used to delineate the path.

Where the route turns right, looking straight ahead between tall trees and through the rough undergrowth, it will be seen that the ground dips sharply away to form a valley. This is the site of the ornamental canal that once formed an important feature of the Aldersbrook Manor estate, but is now almost forgotten and unseen.

The Birches is a refuge and feeding area for many birds, as well as foxes and other smaller mammals. Of the more unusual species that have been recorded here, perhaps woodcock and snipe should be mentioned. It is the relative isolation and quietness of this are that has attracted these, but it is much more common to see birds such as wrens, blue tits, great tits, long-tailed tits and - particularly in the winter when the cemetery provides a refuge for many continental wood pigeons which supplement the resident population. Great spotted woodpeckers are commonly heard or seen, and the area should provide a good habitat for lesser-spotted woodpeckers too - although in recent years these have been scarce. The smallest of our British birds, the goldcrest, is common here too.

Always, the path-side logs should be looked at for fungi, and turkeytail Trametes versicolor and inkcaps Coprinus spp. may be found in their season. Walking parallel with the canal (to the left), large grey poplars are ahead, and yews. The path eventually turns right again, but look first at the disk-shaped logs that have been piled at the corner. These provide a home for not only fungi and slime-moulds, but a host of insects and crustaceans such as the wood louse Porcellio scaber. Before proceeding along the main track, drop down the slight slope to the wicker-fence. Beyond this is a pond created before the nature reserve was formed, but as wildlife habitat. The pond is fed by water that flows from a conduit - just visible to the left - and is the Alders Brook. This really is an out-of-the-way area, and secretive birds may use it. The small duck teal have been seen here, making use of the shallow margins. The pond may be almost filled at times with celery-leaved buttercup Ranunculus sceleratus. On the concrete of the conduit, ferns have found a home and include hart's-tongue.

Returning up the slope, it will be noted that there are some silver birch hereabouts as well as a large numbers of yew trees. Although there are seedling yews, the majority were planted in the 1980s. These are popular with the already-mentioned goldcrests. Some elegant sharp-leaved ivy will be seen on the left which contrasts well with other ivy of the more normal leaf-shape nearby. Once more, logs used to line the path are good for fungi, and as some of these are elm the patterns formed by the larvae of elm-bark beetle may be seen. These are particularly visible on the last log-pile as the path exits the Birches to return to the lawn.



Acknowledgements :

Acknowledgements are due to Mr. Ian Hussein, previously Director of the Cemetery, to Xa Naylor, previously Service Development Officer, and to Gary Burkes and other members of the cemetery staff who have been so helpful in gaining access, providing information and establishing the nature reserve.



An Introduction to the City of London Cemetery 


For a list of the plants that have been found in the cemetery - click here

For more details about the plants of the cemetery - click here

For a list of other wildlife that have been recorded in the cemetery - click here

For a map showing the recording grid - click here


The City of London Cemetery lies in the south of Epping Forest, adjacent to Wanstead Flats to the south-west, the Old Sewage Works Site and Wanstead Park just to the north, the Aldersbrook housing estate to the west and partially to the north, and the River Roding and the Alders Brook to the east. The cemetery is situated within the London Borough of Newham, but immediately outside of part of its boundary fence is the London Borough of Redbridge.

 The cemetery is managed by the City of London Corporation, the land purchased by the Commissioners of Sewers of the City of London in 1854 when they bought 200 acres of farmland at Aldersbrook belonging to Lord Wellesley (Sir James Tylney Long) at a cost of £30,721. (For more information on the Aldersbrook Farm and Aldersbrook Manor, click here)

A burial ground was required by the Corporation because of a lack of such space in the City of London itself. The first burial took place in 1856, though the cemetery was consecrated somewhat belatedly in 1857. It was incidentally but most importantly the fact that the Corporation owned this land that enabled them to play such a historic role in the creation of Epping Forest as we now know it. In 1871 the Corporation took up legal proceedings to maintain their right of pasturage (as owners of land adjacent to the Forest) - as the forest was in danger of becoming enclosed. After legal proceedings lasting several years and the City of London having purchased the Forest from 19 manor owners for a little over a quarter of a million pounds, the Epping Forest Act of 1878 was passed and Queen Victoria gave up her hunting rights. This resulted in the forest being available for use by the public.

This is the largest cemetery in London, and in recent years the authorities have tried to encourage visitors to the grounds other than for the more obvious reasons. There are some 250,000 visitors a year, and many of these will appreciate and wander through avenues of trees, appreciate the Rhododendrons in June and gaze at the ancient headstones. There are few famous people buried here - Winston Churchill's nanny, the first two victims of Jack the Ripper and the footballer Bobby Moore are perhaps the most notable - but the cemetery has the widest variety of trees in the area outside of Epping Forest, and a variety of wildlife - birds, plants and animals. Even geologists are catered for in the variety of material used for headstones and statues. The authorities were at one time proposing a £600,000 visitor centre and exhibition hall, but this has not come to pass. However, a cafeteria called 'The Gatehouse Pantry', situated behind the gate-house and office buildings and with an outside seating area, was opened and proved a very popular venue for some years. In 2016, though, this was closed, refurbished and reopened in early 2017 as 'The Poppy Pantry'.

The south-east boundary from the cemetery's main gate is separated only by a low wall and railing fence from part of Wanstead Flats, and where the Flats finish at a corner by a railway bridge a footpath (known as the Bridle Path) separates the cemetery's south eastern edge from the railway. At the eastern end, the path widens and drops down towards the Alders Brook and then turns the corner in a north-westerly direction to continue by the edge of the cemetery fence. A narrow strip of unused land - known locally as the Butts - separates the path from the brook and the wild-flowers here were once a beautiful and most surprising spectacle for the border of Newham and Redbridge. This aspect has now been all-but lost after the cycle/footpath known as the Roding Valley Way cut through the meadow. Now it is mostly brambled over, and is very prone to rubbish-tipping. Beyond the brook is a golf course; not so interesting for plants, but open land nevertheless. In a few hundred yards the path passes between the cemetery and some allotments, and beyond these is more unused land by the River Roding, with the golf course on the eastern bank. Some hundreds of yards farther on the path separates the cemetery from the site of the old Redbridge (Southern) Sewage Treatment Works, which is now part of Epping Forest and known as 'The Exchange Land'. At the north-eastern corner of the cemetery the path turns left, and again serves to separate the cemetery from the sewage works site, more allotments, and eventually the Aldersbrook housing estate where the path finishes. The rest of the north-west and south west boundary back to the main gate is bordered by the gardens of houses.

Excavations took place in 1972-3 in a small area to the north and east of the catacombs. The catacombs are located in what would have been the eastern embankment of the Great Pond, an attraction of Aldersbrook Manor. The strata was found to consist here of heavy gravels and London clay.

The cemetery itself has been said to be one of the finest examples of a Victorian Cemetery in the country (Guy Vaes, Belgium, 1978: Cemeteries of London (an album with photographs by the author). The grounds are maintained to a high standard, and there is an air of tidiness and formality about much of the cemetery. An almost constant process of lawn cutting and strimming takes place so that rank grassland is virtually absent, and even long grass is comparatively rare. Indeed from a botanical point of view perhaps too much grass cutting is done, so that species that might otherwise thrive do not get a chance. An example of this is the scarcity of harebell Campanula rotundifolia, which was present in large amounts a few years ago when there was a greater interval between the times when lawns were cut.



Cemeteries of London, Guy Vaes, Belgium, 1978



The City of London Cemetery and Crematorium - update on some of the issues referred to in the above article.


The Corporation of London's Public Relations Office produced a publication - City of London Cemetery and Crematorium Tree Trails which featured almost 70 varieties of tree to be seen on two tree walks. It was available free of charge at the Main Gate, but unfortunately iis no longer available.

A survey of the trees in the cemetery was undertaken by the cemetery authorities, the species recorded and the specimen trees tagged with a number. 3622 trees were identified and mapped, notes being made of their state of health and any remedial work that needed to be undertaken, and about 92 species are known to be present.

A policy of allowing some areas to remain in a state to allow for seasonal wildlife to be enhanced has been instigated - these are called Seasonal Wildlife Zones.


The Birches Nature Reserve opened for visits by the public in 2006. At the Cemetery Open Day on Sunday 13th August, a walk was led around the Nature Reserve by myself (Paul Ferris). About 15 people attended, and although weather conditions weren't conducive to much wildlife activity, the visit seemed favourably received. Future tours may be planned. For more details about the Birches Nature Reserve click here



For photographs of some of the wildlife to be found in the cemetery click here



150th Anniversary Plaque


A memorial plaque accompanying an oak planted on 13th August 2006 to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the opening of the cemetery. The text is as follows :

"This Oak Tree was planted on 13th August 2006 by Mr John W. Brewster OBE Chairman of the Port Health & Environmental Services Committee To mark the 150th anniversary year of the City of London Cemetery"


150th Anniversary Oak Tree